Access is the right of the child to have contact with her or his parents. Where one parent has custody of the child the other parent will be the parent with access.
Child access arrangements can include letters/cards/telephone calls or visits for a few hours or overnight stays. The access can take place daily, once in a while, on weekends, during school holidays depending on what can be agreed and what is right for the child and the parents.
It is usually best if the parents can agree on the arrangements for access to the child.
What Happens if We Cannot Agree?
If agreement cannot be reached, either parent may make an application to the court to decide on what access the non-custodial parent will have. The application for access can be made to the District Court or it can be made as part of an application for Judicial Separation or Divorce in the Circuit Court.
What Will The Court Do?
In every application for child access the factor considered most important by the court is the welfare of the child. It is a child’s right to see both parents and access for the parent without custody will only be denied if the court believes that it is not in the best interest of the child to have that access. This happens only in very rare circumstances. If there are concerns about child access the court can order supervised access where another adult is present during visits if it considers it appropriate. Otherwise the court will set out the frequency, time, place and duration of access visits.
Can Grandparents or Others Get Access?
Yes. The law provides that any person who is a relative of the child or who has been like a parent to the child may apply to the court for permission to bring an application for child access.
Ken Heffernan, Family Law and Divorce Solicitor, is experienced in dealing with these issues and can apply the legal requirements set out above to your particular case to advise you appropriately for your circumstances whether you are in Cork or elsewhere in Ireland.